You know that old Girl Scout song:
"Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver and the other's gold."
One is silver and the other's gold."
It is so true. But, sometimes, as I go through life making new friends, I begin to forget about the old friends. Our experiences and circumstances change and make maintaining our friendships more of a commitment of time, rather than a convenience of doing business with or attending school with someone we like. And that is when I think real friendship is tested.
It has been said that one only really has a few really good friends in life. My mother told me once that her definition of a "good friend" is someone that you can call at 3 in the morning, no matter how long it has been since you saw them, and they would still be happy to hear from you. I have many of those people in my life. I am very lucky. But, I do wonder, if that really defines a "true friendship". If you aren't talking to them regularly, why not?
My mother-in-law still has parties with girlfriends she had when she came to Columbus more than 40 years ago. The five ladies who make up her most solid friend base have been her friends since she was 17 or 18 years old. But, her circumstances did not change much. She lives in the house where my father-in-law was raised. The family has owned the house since about 1928, shortly after it was built. The neighborhood is also very stable. Just a few blocks away, there is a family, with 8 kids, 4 of whom have purchased houses on the same street as the "family homestead". Even though many of these ladies have moved away to other parts of the city, their lives all intersect at regular enough intervals and their experiences are similar enough, that they have ground to share.
One of the things that plagues my friendships, however, is that dastardly thief called "Change" and his brother, "Time". Change can be good and is usually necessary, but the fact is, that friendships based on the convenience of seeing each other at regular intervals makes for rocky ground, when change intervenes. Time is short all around. One of my friends calls it "The Time Famine". She's right. I look at my schedule and think, "Now, when would I ever see a friend who I just don't see at one of my practices or events during the week? Friday between 7 pm and 10 pm? Or perhaps Saturday between 6 am and 8 am?" The key, is of course, making time. Making time for my old friends is something that I need to work on.
And change also brings different perspectives into play. As one's interests change and experiences grow, so does their circle of acquaintances, and thereby, their friends. I have become a broader person (and I think a better one) for all of the new friends I have made, while I see some of my older friends slipping away from me, because they refuse to grow or tolerate that which they do not understand. While I do not consider myself to be "open-minded", necessarily, I do consider myself to be "open-hearted". That makes for an interesting collection of friends.
Going back through all the friends that I could call at 3 AM and still have them happy to hear from me, I count among them a couple of very conservative Catholic couples who border on homophobia. But, I also count a couple of gay men who have been a committed couple for more than 40 years. Could the they co-exist in a room together, say, for my daughter's wedding? I'd say that's probably up to them. I love them all. I would never leave any of them out of a life celebration.
Does that make me a "sell-out"? I don't think so. If I can figure out how to balance my new and old friends, I think it makes me a richer person in the Silver and Gold of my many friendships shot through the tapestry of my life.
"Fiora" - Decoration from the headgear of Cypriot middle class/bourgeois costume.
(from Athens (Greece) Historical Museum)